No high level talks on agenda of Iran-U.S. talks: Mottaki

July 26, 2007 - 0:0

TEHRAN - Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said on Wednesday that the issue of elevating the diplomatic level of Iran-U.S. talks on Iraq is not on the agenda.

“No such request has been made and the issue of elevating the level of the talks is not on the agenda of talks,” Mottaki told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Earlier on Wednesday, some news agencies had reported that Mottaki had said that Iran would consider holding talks with the United States at the level of deputy foreign minister if Washington officially made such a request. Iranian ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi-Qomi and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker held a second round of talks over the security situation in Iraq on Tuesday in Baghdad to follow up their first meeting on May 28. Mottaki did not answer a reporter’s question about the discussions on the five Iranian diplomats captured in Irbil by U.S. forces on January 11 but said that more details about the Iran-U.S. talks would be provided soon. He also rejected claims by the U.S. that Iran is interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs. The price that Iraq is paying now is the result of the wrong policies adopted by the White House over the past four years, which “has turned the people’s happiness over Saddam Hussein’s downfall into bitterness,” he opined. Iraq security panel work starts U.S. and Iraqi officials began work on Wednesday on setting up a security panel with Iran to try to end Iraq's bloodshed, AP reported. Sectarian violence and worsening chaos in Iraq has pushed the United States and Iran, which have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after Iran's 1979 revolution, to seek common ground, with Iraq asking both for help. But the two rounds of talks have produced few concrete steps apart from Tuesday's agreement to establish a trilateral security committee to investigate issues such as support for militias and al Qaeda in Iraq. U.S. political and military representatives in Baghdad were working on how to set up the committee and areas which it would investigate after Tuesday's talks. ""They'll talk to the Iraqis, who will then talk to the Iranians and we'll see how we proceed from there,"" a U.S. embassy spokesman said. Crucial report Tuesday's talks came less than two months before Crocker and U.S. military commander General David Petraeus must present a crucial report to the U.S. Congress on Iraq's political and security progress. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's fractured government is under growing pressure from Washington to meet a series of political benchmarks aimed at promoting national reconciliation before Congress receives the progress report in mid-September. Underscoring the difficulties Maliki faces, the Accordance Front, parliament's main Sunni bloc, said on Wednesday its ministers would suspend work for a week to push the government to give them a greater say in security matters. The Front suspended participation in cabinet meetings last month.